The West

Abbott Government accused of using terrorism fears to distract from budget
Abbott Government accused of using terrorism fears to distract from budget

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has branded a Labor senator a "muppet" for saying the government is hiding its budget behind national security scaremongering.

Labor senator Sue Lines says the Government seems determined to only talk about terrorism and not its tough budget cuts.

"It's [the Government] hyping it up, it's invented the term Team Australia - you're either in the team or you're out of the team," she said.

"And it's looking for opportunities in the media and elsewhere to try and scare the Australian public and to distract everyone from the budget."

Sue Lines of the Australian Labor Party. Photo: Supplied

A focus on the threat of home-grown terrorists during parliament this week was just "a shield to try and deflect from the awful mess they're in with their budget", Senator Lines said.

Mr Morrison, who sits on the cabinet's national security committee, said the senator's comments were disappointing.

"If she doesn't believe that the IS (Islamic State) involvement in Iraq and Syria presents a genuine and real threat to Australia, then she's a muppet," he told ABC radio.

"She should be hauled into line by her leader and return the debate to the adults."

President Barack Obama listens as Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks on June 12, 2014. The two leaders discussed a range of issues of mutual interest, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Australia's leadership in the G-20 this year, and the future of Afghanistan. Photo: AP

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has given broad support to the proposed legislative changes, but said Labor would wait to see the legislation.

"When it comes to national security, Labor sees this as a matter above politics," Mr Shorten told reporters on Wednesday.

Senator Lines said her party would take a calmer and more reasonable approach than the Coalition.

"I think Labor will be sensible in this regard, because what Labor doesn't do is we don't scaremonger," she said.

"It's not the game we play, and we are about sensible policy and so obviously we do need to see the detail of that policy."

The opposition leader's parliamentary secretary, Jim Chalmers, described Senator Lines as a wonderful colleague but said serious issues such as terrorism should be above politics.

Tony Abbott has confirmed the Government is talking to Washington about what Australia could contribute to a military mission in Iraq but has promised to consult the people and Opposition before deciding to go to war. Photo: Getty

Labor frontbencher Kate Ellis said her colleague was entitled to her opinion.

"I certainly wouldn't have voiced it in that manner," she told reporters in Canberra.

She said Labor would always work constructively with the the government on national security.

"But this is a dud of a budget and they cannot escape from that fact," she said.

Senator Lines said she wanted to make sure that Australia was secure, "but I think you can do that without grandstanding and I think responsible governments get their legislation out there and have a sensible conversation".

"What we've seen this Abbott Government do unfortunately, fairly successfully, is it's very good at demonising, but it then doesn't have a plan to follow through and that's partly why it's in trouble with its budget," she said.

"It's good at the scare tactics but it's not good at good policy and that's what we're seeing now."

News break - August 28

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